Marco Basaiti Resurrection of Christ


Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana


1500 - 1505


679 x 1048 mm



historical period


Exhibit Artwork

Artwork Details

The painting depicts Christ sitting on a rock while pointing the wound on his right side with his hand inflicted by the Roman soldiers while he was on the cross. His left arm supports a crusader flag. Behind him there is a natural landscape influenced by Leonardo and rocks inspired by Venetian painting and in the distance you can see a town on the hill. The sky above the town and behind the rocks is intensely bright blue, crossed by some thin clouds. Christ is depicted as young man with beautiful and delicate body, long hair and a white cloth that covers the upper part of his legs. His figure with pale and golden complexion appears sweet and with no signs of the suffering and pain that were inflicted on the cross, except for the wound on his side. He has a serene look that goes beyond earthly life and that triumphs over death. Christ has just resurrected, he has won over destruction, as attested by the flag, symbol of the resurrection that annuls the death, and inscription on the left side: MORS MIHI ULTRA NON DOMINATIBITUS, from the Bible (Romans 6.9). The painting represents an important iconographic novelty because the Christ is not depicted standing behind the tomb like in the traditional images – such as the famous painting by Piero della Francesca – but sitting on the rock and immersed in the landscape. The general layout of the paint as well as the rendering of the rocky landscape which is not harsh thanks to the chromatic passages confirms Basaiti’s cultural influences, as he was originally from Greece but trained in Venice. The same can be said for the general tones of the painting and the softness with which the artist represented the figure of Christ and his features. The artist signed the work on the lower right corner and the work has been compared stylistically to Blessing Christ preserved at Accademia Carrara of Bergamo and dated 1517 as well as the painting Call of the Sons of Zebedee (Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia) from 1510 which, however, is more similar to the examples of Giovanni Bellini than the canvas of Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. For this reason, the painting of the Milanese artist is probably dated around 1510 when he had studied the Lombard examples, especially the works of Leonardo’s followers such as Giovanni Agostino da Lodi but also the classical painting of Pietro Perugino, whose trip to Venice must have influenced Marco in some level. The paintings and prints by Albrecht Durer, who had been in Venice between 1494 and 1495 and again in 1505, could have inspired some aspects of the painting, such as the minimal roughness of the rocks. The work was added to Pinacoteca Ambrosiana’s collection in 1827, when it was donated to the museum by a noble art collector Giovanni Edoardo De Pecis. It is currently located in the second room of Pinacoteca and it has been recently restored.

Artist Details

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His first documented work was Portrait of a young age of 1496, but only with the following works appeared clearly the tendency of the painter and create color mixtures and impressive figures in the style of Antonelli and Bellini, whose leader in Venice was Alvise Vivarini.

The most significant examples, in this regard, were the plates with Saint Mark and the Dead Christ, as well as the figures of San Sebastiano and San Girolamo made at the Frari church in Venice.

After the death of Vivarini, Basaiti completed the Sant'Ambrogio altarpiece in the Milanese chapel of the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, also influenced by the Tuscan and Lombard masters.

A certain link with the tradition of the fifteenth century continued to characterize Basaiti, even when, influenced by the influence of Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione, he refined the mixture of colors and approached a vision and interpretation of the most real and emotional nature. The Deposition and the Vocation of the sons of Zebedee (1510) went back to this artistic period, with the splendid scenery of a fertile nature composed of luminous figures wrapped in plays of light and shadow.

The risen Christ also appeared to be of considerable impact to the viewer, with the effect of the clouds enveloping the castle, the Adoring Madonna with the Child and the Oration of the Mount of Olives (1515), in which the contrast between the landscape of a poetic sweetness and the rigorous figure of the Apostles turns in favor of nature.

He distinguished himself overall more in portraiture than in compositions.

His name has sometimes been confused with that of his colleague Andrea Busati, and this misunderstanding has created some difficulties in the biographical reconstruction of both painters.

Collection Details

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Pinacoteca Ambrosiana was established in 1618 by cardinal Federico Borromeo, when he donated his art collection to the Ambrosiana library, which was founded by him as well in 1607. The building was named after the patron saint of Milan, St. Ambrose.

It was the first museum in the world to be open to the public. The history of the Pinacoteca and the library goes hand in hand, as this was also the first library to be open to the public. The book collection includes prestigious volumes, among them Petrarch’s Virgil with illuminated manuscript by Simone Martini and Da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus, donated in 1637 by Galeazzo Arconati.

In fact, cardinal’s plan was to display art with its symbology and evocative power to serve Christian values reaffirmed by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), which were threatened by the diffusion of the Protestant reformation.

The academy was added in 1637 and transferred to Brera in 1776. It was supposed to be an artistic school of painting, sculpture and architecture which would allow the students to learn from the great models of the history.

The building was designed by architect Fabio Mangone (1587-1629) and it is located in the city center. The space is expanded over 1500 square meters and divided into twenty-two rooms. The cardinal illustrated the works and the objects himself in his book in Latin, Museum (1625), which still today represents the main nucleus of the Pinacoteca.

Through commissions and purchases Federico Borromeo’s collection grew with the paintings of Lombard and Tuscan schools, among them works by Raphael, Correggio and Bernardino Luini and casts from Leone Leoni’s workshop, arriving to a total of 3000 artworks of which 300 are exhibited.

There are great masterpieces such as the Portrait of a Musician by Leonardo Da Vinci (1480), Madonna del Padiglione by Botticelli (1495), the cartoon for the School of Athens by Raphael (before 1510), the Holy Family with St. Anne and Young St. John by Bernardino Luini (1530) and the Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Jacopo Bassano (1547).

A great part of the collection is dedicated to landscape and to still life, because the Cardinal saw the nature as an important tool raising the human mind into the Divine. For this reason, Federico collected Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit and the miniature paintings by Jan Brueghel and Paul Brill.

After the cardinal’s death the collection was enriched with the donations of the artworks from 15th and 16th centuries, such as the frescoes by Bramantino and Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen’s marble self-portraits. Museo Settala, one of the first museums in Italy, founded by canonical Manfredo Settala (1600-1680), was joined to Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in 1751. The museum is a sort of science history museum with a variety of curiosities of all time.

During the period of growth, the museum required some structural and architectural changes as well, including the expansion of the exhibition halls between 1928 and 1931, which were decorated with 13th century miniature motifs of Ambrosian codes, and between 1932 and 1938 a new series of restorations was implemented under the guidance of Ambrogio Annoni. The renowned readjustment in 1963 was curated by architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni and the museum excursus was concluded with the current reorganization between 1990 and 1997.